Friday, January 05, 2018

The rescheduled Coral Welsh Grand National 2017

Look, I know I'm getting older and that bit more forgetful - in the pub I am constantly being reminded to buy a round - but when I checked out tomorrow's Welsh Grand National preview in the Weekender, I was struck with a very distinct feeling of deja vu.

Ten days ago I tipped Wild West Wind for the Welsh National that was subsequently called off. The Weekender preview for that race discussed Wild West Wind's victory in the Welsh National Trial on December 9th and continued:

"The gap between that race and this one is just 18 days but Tom George's charge will be thereabouts if fully recovered."

Rather strangely, that's exactly what's printed in this week's Weekender...

Tom George's charge, together with Alfie Spinner (second) and Milansbar (third), has benefitted from an additional ten days to recover from those particular exertions. Unfortunately layers are no longer offering the 12/1 originally quoted; Wild West Wind is generally 8/1.

As in my original preview, given underfoot conditions (Chepstow heavy, 'brutal' to quote Evan Williams), I've concentrated my insubstantial efforts on runners who are weighted to carry less than 11-0 - eight of the last ten winners fall into this bracket - and who have also shown some form previously at the track.

Last year Native River became the first top-weight to come home in front since Carvill's Hill in 1991. Since the war there has been no thirteen-year-old winner and just one twelve-year-old - Gallery in 1960.

The shortlist comprises Raz De Maree, O'Faolains Boy, Buckhorn Timothy, Milansbar, Alfie Spinner, Firebird Flyer and Emperor's Choice.

Taking James Bowen's five pound claim into consideration, Raz De Maree (14/1) - second last year - tries on better terms this time and it's unlikely there's another Native River in the field. I saw him tipped up here and there over Christmas but he's looking a little long in the tooth now and I prefer to look elsewhere.

Alfie Spinner (25/1) is thirteen as well but his second in the Welsh National Trial reads well; on a strict interpretation of the form he has the beating of Wild West Wind. Prior to that run Alfie was pulled up in the Badger Ales at Wincanton behind Present Man (Final Nudge a head second).

The booking of Geraghty for O'Faolains Boy (25/1) catches the eye. This evening the Racing Post quotes handler Rebecca Curtis:

"We gave him a tie-forward operation coming into the winter, which seems to have really helped. He seems in really good form and is hopefully back to his old self."

O'Faolains Boy also holds an entry in the Veterans' Handicap Chase at Sandown (3.00).

When last seen over the larger obstacles in the 2016 Welsh National Trial, Buckhorn Timothy (25/1)  seemed to find the larger obstacles getting in the way. His two recent hurdle runs provide some grounds for optimism; Joe Tizzard has told the Racing Post:

"We've had this in mind for him all season... Like them all, he's got to handle the conditions but he has a good attitude and should be all right."

Earlier in the week Neil King issued a positive update about Milansbar (16/1).

I'm wary when the trainer tells us 'Milansbar has been quite hard work for Trevor [Whelan] on his last two starts...'; the first-time cheekpieces will need to work their magic but on Racing Post ratings he is the top one in the field.

2014 winner Emperor's Choice (20/1) may find this coming a little too quickly after winning on heavy at Haydock over three miles three and a half furlongs last Saturday while Firebird Flyer is one of three entries for Evan Williams.

Pobbles Bay looks the stable's best chance while On The Road is unexposed but not guaranteed to stay.

Firebird Flyer (40/1) finished second behind Mountainous in 2016 and then eighth last year but has generally been out of sorts (pulled up in the Midlands National and the Scottish National).

There was a faint flicker of hope on his comeback run over hurdles at Ffos Las in November; he races off a mark 11 pounds lower than last year, is the second best horse in the field on Racing Post ratings and jockey Conor Ring claims three pounds.

It's a wide open event.

On the back of Joe Tizzard's comments Buckhorn Timothy is the tentative each-way suggestion at 25/1, with Ladbrokes, Coral and Betfred amongst those paying one fifth the odds five places.


Anonymous said...

3m5½f Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5yo+) [6th Jan 2018]

167,ON THE ROAD(IRE),4.66
161,RAZ DE MAREE(FR),2.73

At the age of 13 Alfie Spinner (AS) will not be on many punters short-list for the re-arranged Coral Welsh Grand National but as trends are there to be bucked I’ll take an EW interest at 25/1.

AS has been revitalised since the switch to Kerry Lee’s yard, the fitting of a tongue tie and the addition of cheekpieces. Jumping up from a BHA rating of 118 to 132, aside from pulling up on his seasonal debut, he has yet to run a bad race for his new yard.

Recent form lines with the front 3 in the market provide some evidence that AS might be able to make the frame. Last time out he finished 2nd to Wild West Wind (WWW) and if you juggle the jockey claims AS could be 12lb better off against WWW today. Back in March AS ran in the Midland Grand National, he was well beaten by Mysteree (M) and Chase The Spud (CTS) that day but AS is at least 14lbs better off with both today if we again include the jockey’s claim suggesting he might get a bit closer.

AS will, against younger and more progressive rivals, need a slice of luck to win the race but he should hopefully out run his odds and make one the 6 places on offer with SkyBet (25/1, 1/5 odds, 6 places).

Good luck.


GeeDee said...

You present a well-argued case for Alfie Spinner, TW; his second in the Welsh National Trial is clearly decent form.

Good luck!

GeeDee said...

A most memorable renewal of the Welsh National with the spoils eventually going to thirteen-year-old Raz De Maree (16/1) ridden by sixteen-year-old James Bowen.

Last night TW made a cogent, compelling case for the second highest on his ratings, the other thirteen-year-old in the field, Alfie Spinner, who was sent off a 33/1 chance. Prominent throughout, Alfie seemed to have his rivals toiling when taking up the running off the home bend for the final time; he gave way to the winner two out, finishing six lengths second, and emerges with tremendous credit.

The two oldest horses in the field crossed the line first and second.

Final Nudge finished (12/1) third, Vintage Clouds (7/1f) fourth, Silsol (28/1) fifth and Rathlin Rose (50/1) sixth; Pobbles Bay (20/1) was the only other one to complete.

Daryl Jacob secured a decent spot next to the inside rail on selection Buckhorn Timothy (20/1) who raced with the leading group for a circuit but he gradually fell away as they raced down the back straight for the final time. He was pulled up lame after the fourteenth.